PSYC14 Ch.13,14.doc

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Published on 11 Dec 2014
Chapter 13 – Morality, Religion, and Justice
- Many Muslims do not believe that freedom trumps all other values (Danish caricature of
-Huntington: Fundamental sources of conflicts for the new world = cultural and religious divisions
-Secularization theory: religion is on the decline, and that people around the world are discovering
new secular and rational ways to make sense of their lives Nietzsche “God is dead”
- 94% of Americans report believing in God!!
- Religiosity actually increasing over the past decade in the U.S. (great scientific advances +largest
- Growing hostility between different faiths (diff. cultures + religions coming into contact more!)
- Consequences of cultural differences in perceptions of morality underlie many past + future conflicts
around the world
Universalism, Evolutionism, and Relativism
- Three interpretive models for making sense of cultural diversity: universalism, relativism, and
-Universalism: perspective that sees people from different cultures as largely the same, and that
any observed cultural variability exists only at a superficial level
oCommon underlying foundation to people’s mental processes
oDifferences only in terms of conventions (little significance)
E.g. universality of language Chomsky + notion of a universal grammar
(common features)
-Relativism: perspective that maintains that cultural diversity in ways of thinking is NOT superficial
but reflects genuinely different psychological processes
oCulture and thought are mutually constituted
oCultural practices = certain habitual ways of thinking varying cultures = varying ways of
oCultural practices reflect a solution to the challenges faced by the culture
oRelativists urge people to be slow to pass judgement on other cultures
-Evolutionism: maintains that cultural variability reflects genuine differences in psychological
processes and also maintains that there really is only one way the mind has evolved to think
oCultural differences in ways of thinking reflects increasing stages of development
oSome ways of thinking are more mature/advanced people of different cultures would all
think in the same ways once they reached the same point of development
Identify psychological process as a standard of mature or advanced thinking
Evaluate other cultures by how closely they match this standard
E.g. Muller-Lyer illusion on corners + depth
Ethnocentrism and Interpreting Cultural Variability
- Evolutionist perspective = most resistance by cultural psychologists
oHow can one objectively identify a standard for evaluating a psychological phenomenon
-Ethnocentrism bias leads people to assume that their own culture’s way of life is in some ways
better or more natural than that of others
oWe are socialized precisely to think in ways consistent with our cultural values and to
EVALUATE practices in terms of how well they fit with what our culture views to be good or
- Cultures tend to value more those characteristics for which their own culture is particularly
oHard to determine what different cultures value + the right or wrongs
oE.g. “which cultures provide the highest quality of life?” hard to choose variable that
defines it
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
- Most influential model of moral reasoning (evolutionist perspective)
- Developmental framework for understanding people’s abilities to reason morally
- Moral reasoning = cognitive abilities they develop as an individual develops/matures/educated
Level 1: The Preconventional Level
- Individuals understand the cultural rules/labels of what is good and bad (satisfy one’s own needs?)
- interpreted based on physical or hedonistic consequences for their actions
- people interpret morality based on a calculation of how much better or worst off they would be for
acting a certain way
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- behaving in a way that provides the best overall return
Level 2: The Conventional Level
- people identify themselves with a particular group or social order (loyalty)
- viewing actions as moral to the extent that they help maintain and facilitate the social order
- morally wrong = violating any rules, regardless of what those rules or laws are about, do not
question rules
Level 3: The Postconventional Level
- moral values/principles are seen to exist separately from the authority of the social groups that hold
- moral reasoning = consideration of abstract ethical principles of what is right or wrong
- Good behaviour is seen as that which is consistent with a set of UNIVERSAL ETHICAL
PRINCIPLES that emphasize justice and individual rights
- Research: present participants with a moral dilemma and analyze their reasoning for their answer
- ** model is proposed to be universal levels are always seen sequentially
- **full range of moral levels do not have to be evident in all cultures (cultural variation = diff moral
reasoning capacities)
- ** developmental standard: moral reasoning = ethical principles of justice and individual rights
Cross Cultural Evidence for Kohlberg’s Model
- Explored 45 studies that investigated the different levels of moral reasoning in 27 different countries
oIn no cultural group did the average adult reason at the preconventional level
oMany samples of children revealed evidence of preconventional reasoning
o*Kohlberg’s model might be UNIVERSALLY applicable at those two stages
- Postconventional reasoning was NOT universally found (western sample –YAY, tribal pop. – NAH)
oEvolutionists: traditional societies do not provide the educational experiences necessary
oRelativist: moral framework best fits their environment (urban vs. tribal) studies suggests
there might be different categories of moral reasoning that are missing from Kohlberg’s
- Ethnocentric bias postconventional reasoning
Ethics of Autonomy, Community and Divinity
-Shweder and colleagues Kohlberg’s model = only one of 3 diff codes of ethics that guides
people’s moral judgements
-Ethic of Autonomy: views morality in terms of individual freedom and rights violation
oPersonal choice, free contracts, individual liberty
oImmoral = directly hurts another person or infringes on another’s rights and freedom as an
o**critical importance in ALL cultures
-Ethic of Community: individuals have duties that conform with their roles in a community or social
oEthical principle to uphold one’s interpersonal duties and obligations to others
oImmoral: individual fails to perform their duties associated with their role
-Ethic of Divinity: concerned with sanctity and the perceived “natural order” of things
oOne is obligated to preserve the standards mandated by a transcendent authority (God)
oImmoral: cause impurity or degradation to onself or others, or if one shows disrespect to
God or God’s creation
- These three ethics not equally elaborated across all cultural contexts (diff. moral frameworks)
- Root of some important cross-cultural grievances (caricature of Mohammad)
Ethic of Community
-Gilligan: interpersonal obligation represent a kind of morality distinct from emphasis on individual
oWomen are more likely to reason this way than are men
- Prominent in some non-Western cultures
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft Relations
-Tonnies argued that there are two means by which individuals can related to each other in a group
-Gemeinschaft: “community” in German, characteristic of smaller folk organizations, and within
these groups, interpersonal relationships play an especially important role
oRelationships are central to an individual’s identity (interdependent self)
oObligations associated with one’s relationship moral obligation
oNot objective or impartial enough to be governed by a system of justice and contracts
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oNUCLEAR FAMILY (no contractual agreements)
-Gesellschaft: “association” or “society”, more characteristic of modern western societies, treat
relationships as imaginary + instrumental, and a means to an end
oFocus on autonomous individuals bound to another through social convention
obligation that exists only when law is present = social convention
oRelations are relatively impersonal and contractual
oFormalized rules necessary to keep people in line (people don’t behave pro socially as
Ethic of Community in India
-moral obligations =
oobjective obligations that must be acted upon (even without an official rule/law)
olegitimately regulated: people should be prevented from engaging in moral violation,
punished if they do
people feel that someone should not be prevented to engage in act = view is
personal choice, not moral obligation
e.g. failing to attend a friend’s graduation ceremony = matter of personal choice by
westerners, NOT a moral obligation
- studies of moral reasoning provide people with dilemmas in which neither options seems ideal
opeople’s moral principle can be discerned by examining trade-offs
oe.g. Ben + ring + wedding + stolen wallet + stealing
justice violation vs. violation of interpersonal obligation
oParticipants given scenarios that varied in extremity of breaches
- Aside from minor justice breach scenarios there is great variability within cultures
oNo widely shared understanding of what is the best way to resolve these kinds of conflicts
- Clear difference across cultures
oIndians more likely to resolve conflict by fulfilling interpersonal obligations than Americans
oIndians + Americans viewed justice breaches in moral terms
Indians moral obligation interpersonal > justice
Ethic of Divinity
- Immoral: violates the natural order of things
oBehaviours that are repulsive, bad, disgusting
oImmoral = universally wrong and prevented/punished those who commit it
-Haidt E.g. sexual intercourse with chicken before eating it
oVast majority of Penn students did not view the behaviour as immoral, even if it is disgusting
oHalf (~50%) of high-status Brazilian participants view it in MORAL terms
oMajority (80+%) of low-status Brazilians viewed it as IMMORAL (moral terms)
Penn students felt it was immoral only when they felt that someone is harmed
Ethic of autonomy moral violation stems from causing harm
Low-status participants: moral judgement based on event being
Affected by emotional reaction ETHIC OF DIVINITY
- ** moral judgements don’t always occur in cold, cognitive terms
oMoral justifications rationalize strong emotions they have when witnessing undesirable
Culture Wars
- Data from Haidt study conducted just THREE BLOCKS APART!
- Pronounced differences of opinion on moral issues even within a country (“Culture war” within the
-Hunter: battle lines drawn between those who have an “impulse toward orthodoxy” and those
who have an “impulse toward progressivism” (regardless of religious denomination)
oOrthodox religions: committed to the idea of a transcendent authority
Operating independently of people more knowledgeable +powerful than human
Transcendent authority originated a moral code
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